Medical intervention: Despite attempts to increase the number of women giving birth naturally, the use of forceps is at its highest level for almost 20 years
One in 15 births – almost 120 a day – are carried out using surgical forceps, which help pull the baby out during a difficult delivery.
After reaching a record low in 2000 in England, their use has almost doubled at a time when the Government is promoting less medical intervention.
Campaigners say the figures show a ‘conveyor belt’ system of childbirth in NHS hospitals, driven by midwife shortages.
The Royal College of Midwives says at least 5,000 more midwives are needed.
An increase in the use of forceps highlights the growing trend for women to have babies at older ages, and to be more obese, which leads to more instrumental deliveries and caesareans.
Last year, 6.5 per cent of babies – 42,647 – were born using forceps, the highest figure since the mid-1990s.
This compares to 3.8 per cent in 2000, which accounted for just 20,885 births.
At the same time, large compensation payments have been made by the NHS for bungled forceps deliveries which have left the child or mother with permanent injuries, including four of more than £3million.
Janet Fyle, of the Royal College of Midwives, said the rise in forceps deliveries could be because of pressures on maternity units, some of which have blamed a ‘conveyor belt’ system for letting down mothers.
She said: ‘On occasions there may be the need to deliver a baby quickly if it is in distress, in which case forceps are appropriate, but forceps cannot be used as an option just because we think a woman’s labour is delayed. There are not enough midwives and there is undoubtedly pressure in maternity units to get people in and out quickly.’
Elizabeth Duff, of the National Childbirth Trust, added: ‘The use of forceps during childbirth is associated with higher rates of complications for the mother, as well as posing risks of injury to the baby, so it is essential that this approach is only adopted when absolutely necessary.’
Resources: Campaigners say the figures show a 'conveyor belt' system of childbirth in NHS hospitals, driven by midwife shortages
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2271670/Older-mothers-drive-surge-forceps-births-Use-highest-level-20-years-despite-attempts-increase-natural-deliveries.html#ixzz2Jr0wCoxz
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook